If you are a seaman who has suffered an injury while employed on a vessel, as a result of your employer’s negligence or an unsafe condition, under the Jones Act you are entitled to collect damages. Damages can include loss of past wages, loss of earning capacity, loss of fringe benefits, the cost of medical and “general” damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress. If you considering filing a claim under the Jones Act, it is important that you understand your right to collect specific types of damages.
The following is summary of Jones Act Damages:
Past and Future Lost Wages
Under the Jones Act, you are entitled to compensation for past and future loss of wages caused by your injury. When using the services of a Jones Act Attorney, an expert economist will often be brought in to make the calculations. This is particularly important where there injury causes long-term or permanent loss of earning capacity. The use of an economist allows the Jones Act Attorney to present evidence of raises and promotions that you would have received if you were able to continue working. A Jones Act Attorney will know the right economist for your case, one who is familiar with the work of a seaman and the unusual feature of how seamen are paid.
Fringe benefits normally include: health insurance, retirement benefits, meals provided by the employer, your room aboard ship and sometimes disability insurance. Most seamen jobs, and particularly union jobs, will include some or all of these fringe benefits. When an injury prevents you from working, you will eventually lose your fringe benefits. Under the Jones Act, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of fringe benefits.
Cost of Medical Care
Your employer or its insurer will ordinarily pay most of the cost of your medical treatment as part of Maintenance and Cure. Any bills that they do not pay, and the cost of future medical care needs, are recoverable as damages under the Jones Act.
Pain and Suffering
Damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress will depend on the seriousness of the injury. If you file a claim under the Jones act, you will have to prove pain and suffering. This will involve your testimony, medical reports, doctor’s testimony and possibly the testimony of family, friends and co-workers. The judge or jury will determine the amount of pain and suffering damages to award based on the evidence presented.
Jones Act Attorneys
When an injury to a seaman occurs, the seaman’s employer will use specially trained investigators and very expensive lawyers to try to reduce the amount of compensation it will have to pay. Making a claim for compensation under the Jones Act involves a lot of work to prove the case. Work which can be overwhelming and may require knowledge and experience the injured seaman simply does not have; so it is essential to have a Jones Act Attorney represent an injured seaman. If you or a loved one were injured while working aboard a vessel, a Jones Act Attorney will help you protect your rights and work on your behalf to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses. A Jones Act attorney has the knowledge and expertise to prepare a Jones Act case and fight for your rights.